DAMAGING GOD’S MANAGING: SUPPLANTING THE LORD’S ORIGINAL MODEL WITH THE PASTOR PARADIGM

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It is a direct result of the false clergy-laity divide. Once that precedent was set, local one man rule quickly followed. Most insist on the “pastor” title.

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Everybody calls them pastor. Next to no one ever questions the title nor the position of the title holder. Much worse than this, next to no one ever does any New Testament research on this particular term to verify its legitimacy. Like so many other things regarding traditional Christianity as opposed to the Lord’s original model, the pastor title and one man rule has been successfully embedded in religious concrete with nary a fight. Though it has no legitimate reason to exist, its presence proves the further presence of misinformation by design and millions of Christians unaware of the truth. Those in control would rather not deal with any Biblical truth that challenges their position.

THE LORD’S ACTUAL MANAGEMENT MODEL

For those interested in what the New Testament actually teaches about the Lord’s original model, the following four points explain it succinctly:

  1. The New Covenant Communities were each ruled exclusively by the Lord Jesus through the medium of His Holy Spirit.
  2. He appointed men under His leadership to supervisory places of service. These men were generally entitled elders and overseers.
  3. He appointed other men to associate places of service generally entitled deacons and ministers.
  4. Each Community was supervised by a group of elders and never by one man.

I have researched this topic for decades and written long papers. I have done exhaustive New Testament studies on the subject. Because I must be relatively concise with this article, I will explain and clarify, though briefly, the New Testament facts regarding the pastor title and position, and why the issue matters. I will be quoting from my book Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church (which contains much deeper research). Each book excerpt will be indented to differentiate it from the post text. Keep in mind that the words pastor and shepherd are not synonymous:

As mentioned previously, the word “pastor” is mentioned only once in the New Testament and is translated from the Greek word poimen, which is translated as “shepherd” on every other occurrence of its use. “Pastor” is originally a Latin word and means “herdsman,” which is defined as “a manager, tender, or breeder of livestock.” Though “herdsman” and “shepherd” might appear identical, there is a difference. The Good Shepherd, for example, cannot be identified as a mere manager of livestock, but only as a caring shepherd who gives His life for the sheep. A herdsman, or pastor, is actually more similar to a hired hand in the sense that livestock is seen as a commodity, and the level of personal care is much lower than that of a true shepherd. It is in Ephesians 4:11 that we find the only occurrence of the word “pastor.” If the translators had used the word “shepherd,” as they should have, we quite possibly wouldn’t have today’s “herdsmen” in authority over God’s people, but true shepherds who assist the Great Shepherd. [1]

Again, the word “pastor” is mentioned only once in the New Testament and is translated from the Greek word poimen which is defined as “shepherd.” This Greek word occurs 18 times in the New Testament. Why is it translated as shepherd 17 times instead of all 18? There is absolutely no legitimate reason for this. Since the original King James Version of 1611 was written with a strong authoritarian bias per the king of England and his translators, this was their chance to insert an authority word since the word “shepherd” is disdained by authoritarians as weak and essentially useless for instituting rule. Of course, the Lord Jesus was never referred to as “Pastor” nor were any of His disciples. He was, however, addressed often as Shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd not the “Good Pastor.” We must follow His example:

A real pastor is nothing more than, and nothing less than, a shepherd. Many of those who represent themselves as pastors today are anything but. There are many preachers who desire a nice, steady job and a “Pastor” title. There are also quite a few homesick evangelists who would rather settle down in one location to do pastoral work instead of attend to their callings. It should be obvious that the only real pastors are those who are functioning as pastors, that is, caring for and shepherding God’s flock according to God’s will. There are undoubtedly many people who are called to be shepherds who are not serving as such, or else the Church would be in a lot better shape. Most of these are probably wasting away on pews because they don’t feel qualified when comparing themselves to the multi-credentialed big boys in the pulpits. [2]

Because a great many of our so-called Christian leaders refuse the original New Testament management model of the Lord Jesus, might they also be engaging in other violations? If their desire is to rule over the flock instead of shepherd the flock, their spiritual condition doesn’t really matter. Perhaps this is why so many Christian leaders, including those with a pastor title, seem to always be engaged in some form of hidden sin:

Through deception, each of us can become blind to our own sin at any given time. No one is immune from this possibility. The most susceptible are those who have such a high opinion of their worth and stature the very idea of their fallibility and sinful tendencies escape them. Such “right” supremacists would no longer think it possible to be unaware of or compromised by their own sin than they would think anybody else could possibly serve in their place. When this high-minded attitude is resident within professional Christian leadership, it serves as an obstructing hidden sin against abundant living for those in their care. Hence, it is far too often the case that those who lead congregations do so according to their own will since they are not fully obedient to the will of God. This is not the picture of Jesus working through a person, but a person working of his own accord.

Therefore, many spiritually hungry and unfulfilled seekers of life have unknowingly committed the sin of appropriating for themselves leaders other than Jesus. The Lord makes it very clear that He is the only Good Shepherd, and though a believer may gain assistance from a person of more mature spiritual standing, such a person must never occupy the foremost place of authority in a believer’s life. Such facts bring us to the sad conclusion that many Christian leaders and/or pastors are not true shepherds at all, but mere hired hands. They might indeed care somewhat for those in their congregations, but they certainly don’t possess the same level of care as the Good Shepherd. As hired hands whose salary stems from the pocket of their congregations, they can get by without being tapped-in to God’s payroll and yet maintain their ministerial credentials. The shepherdless sheep, however, are not quite as artful and are often scattered by the wolf. [3]

HOME GROWN WOLVES

While churches have been hyper-sensitized to all manner of possible minor deviations from doctrinal and cultural protocol arising from the congregation and (Aghast!) mysterious visitors, no one ever looks in the other direction. The dude in the pulpit is thus most often immune. He is rarely queried. As long as he gets the denominational doctrine right people look the other way. This would explain the previous passage regarding sin in high places. Where then, would the enemy strike? Would the enemy seek to clandestinely enter the well guarded congregation, the laity class, where every member must always toe the mark and squeal on those who don’t? Or would he attempt a takeover by going after those high and lifted up with little or no accountability that control the operation? We should all know that the devil will always try to gain control of the few in control in order to control all. This is yet another reason why such false Christian authority positions are highly vulnerable to temptation. It is the opposite, of course, with legitimate, accountable, and transparent Christian eldership groups. These men act in the service of the Lord Jesus and not only watch over the flock but each other as well.

Could this be why the clergy boys double down and also establish protective manned check points toward their hidden ivory towers? And condition the congregation to never question “them that have the rule over you?” Do they set up all this protection to keep people from finding out what they really are and what they’re really up to? This is a far cry from the way the Lord Jesus and His followers ever conducted themselves. The “One Man Show” Ruling Paradigm has thus done great damage to the Lord’s management model and has had a devastating effect on what could have been regarding American Christianity’s positive impact on the country. The enemy has gained a beachhead:

 Christianity in general has become too stodgy and complacent to be changed by Him in any appreciable manner, since the will of the people for His control is greatly lacking. Revival and/or renewal do not address the root of the problem, and this consequently demands a new approach. The people who are at least trying to obey Him in this regard are finding some success, and their new-found fresh spiritual forays contrast sharply with conventional methods. It is in comparing the two that we discover a glaring truth.

When the splitting of community became official, it easily did more to thwart God’s plan for evangelizing the world than anything else man has devised. The reason why is simple—ninety-something percent of the membership was removed from the process. The “laity” was deemed unqualified for officially ordained Christian service and, consequently, unworthy of receiving God’s call. Yet, there was a time when all believers heard the call of God, and each person heard it from Jesus Himself. At the present, due to the entrenched tradition of the clergy-laity division, many Christians never consider the possibility of devoting their lives to God because they have been made to think that God only chooses certain rare holy ones for His work. If this is true, the Lord is breaking His own commandment by judging a good many people as unqualified before they ever get a chance to prove themselves.

The only thing which actually disqualifies a person from ministry is the same thing which disqualifies him from membership in the Church, and that is simply a lack of full commitment to the absolute Lordship of Jesus. There is nothing inherent within any sincere believer which disqualifies him or her from the Lord’s service—somebody else’s service yes, but not the Lord’s. Every Christian needs to know that all legitimate calls to ministry come only from the Lord, and each should be encouraged to find his or her place of service. There are abundant ministry needs to address, very few who feel worthy to address them, and many who were discouraged from entering the Lord’s service by inept ministers who were more than likely never called themselves, at least, not by God. [4]

ESTABLISHING DOMINION THROUGH ARCHITECTURE

Why are church building interiors arranged like theaters, auditoriums, assembly houses, and ancient Roman amphitheaters, with platforms and stages, and lecterns and pulpits? The Lord’s original apostles and the entire first century Christian Community never appropriated any of these. Instead, theirs was an organic fellowship utilizing available organic means. For example, they never had any central meeting house but always met in private homes. They took care of one another. What one lacked another provided. They steered clear of any institutionalism, prideful shows of earthly power, or dominance over the people dogma precisely because they were spiritually powerful humble servants, exactly as their Lord commanded them to be.

This question of church buildings thus pretty much answers itself for those paying attention. To go along with clergy dominance, it helps to create imposing material representations of said dominance. The people need to know who’s in charge. It began about 1700 years ago with the first “cathedrals.” They simply transformed Roman government structures for Christian use and then continued with the government model to showcase their rule over the people. Never mind that the Lord Jesus never engaged in such earthly nonsense. When did the Lord and His men ever advocate for the building of static church buildings? There were no church buildings for three centuries and the early believers managed to turn the world upside down anyway. The Lord’s kingdom was and remains a spiritual kingdom devoid of the mandatory trappings of earthly kingdoms.

Also, when did the Lord Jesus ever act like a duded-up ruling potentate preaching down from on high to the lower class? Is He not the most humble Man who ever lived? Did not the Creator Himself choose to present Himself that way? Why did God enter this world like everyone else, as a mere babe? Is He teaching us something with His perfect attitude? Is He not our perfect example?

There is a massive disconnect in this area. When presented with such information most Christians simply stare and say nothing or get angry and go into defense mode. This is highly unfortunate. I am not saying that good is not being done in traditional Christian settings. But such tradition has most often been a huge drag on what could otherwise be accomplished. And nothing subverts the process more than a solitary strong man in control dictating anything and everything, and building according to his vision instead of the Lord’s vision. These ruling pastors (and this is a perfect grammatical definition) are most often working in direct opposition to the Lord Jesus rather than working in concert with Him. The Lord is thus forced to support them in part because of the limited good done in such places since they are on balance better than nothing at all.

STUDY TO SHEW THYSELF APPROVED

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth. [2Timothy 2:15] 

Imagine rightly praising your first grade child for doing well in his or her school work. Then imagine the idea of praising him or her when the child continues to operate on a first grade level in the second or third grade. Then think about what happens when kids are passed on to the next grades when they never complete the required course work for their previous grade. You will eventually have some really ignorant children and teenagers that simply cannot handle the work which the grade they were passed to requires.

Did you know we have an absolute epidemic of ignorant children in schools? That we have ignorant teenagers actually graduating from high schools? That some of these are actually attending college? In the early years of this country, roughly three centuries ago, children were learning new languages. They were reading the classics at early ages. They were reading the Word of God and understanding it. They had difficult course work but many were mastering it. Have you seen the bright but disciplined children in this world mastering musical instruments? Have you noticed how some children learn practical work at early ages and later become masters at their trades?

We do a great disservice to children by allowing them to be dumbed down rather than instructed properly toward higher levels. How many people notice the miracle of very small children somehow learning complex grammar and language at the age of two to three years old? How did their grasp of grammar and vocabulary suddenly shoot through the roof? The so-called experts have no answer for this. It defies evolutionary thinking. It is impossible that the children learned it on their own. It is not possible to teach it. They acquire a great amount of information and ability at an extremely young age and begin working out complex problems when they should not be able to.

Then they are placed in “schools” with extremely limited learning environments with forced low common denominators that cause their revved up rocket engine minds potentially taking them into outer space to be downgraded to virtual Model T’s and in other cases horse and buggy technology that make it difficult to get on down the road and impossible to travel any appreciable distance. Rather than continuing toward epic flight they are forced into slave galleys pulling at oars to support the institution and its parasitic inhabitants and leaders instead of the other way around.

This exact dynamic has transpired in American Christianity. The arrogant clergy boys and their sycophants have created institutions that serve them instead of serving the people. The people suffer. Christians never get the teaching they need or the Biblical and spiritual knowledge they require. These Pharisaical leaders almost never create a single disciple but maintain dumbed down “congregants” who rarely progress and are next to worthless spiritually. Most American Christians have never had a real born again experience. Most have never read the Bible. Most are Biblically illiterate. Most have a dirt foundation with a future fall. It is almost never the case that such eternal church-going Christians cannot learn or be properly discipled as the Lord clearly commanded. It is that true discipleship is at odds with the traditional curriculum. Keeping the congregation dumbed down and under control is a much better management model because it’s a much better business model. It is better to keep everyone in elementary school perpetually to keep them coming, giving their money and support, and maintaining the rule of the clergy and local “pastors.” The last thing they want is people doing things the Lord’s way. I mean, if everybody developed as real ministers of the Gospel and actually graduated, how could that be good for the local church?

SUPPORTING THE COUNTERFEIT

“Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” [Luke 6:46] [5] 

Why is it that most Christians never properly compare the Lord’s ministry style with their own and comprehend the night and day difference? Is it simple cognitive dissonance? Why do so many Christians look upon the Lord Jesus, the original apostles, and the first century Church as primitive and even wacky, and their methods those of a long dead culture that could never work in the present? The reality of the matter is that the Lord’s management model, which is the perfect model, is rejected not because it doesn’t work or cannot work but because it conflicts with what Americans Christians have built in its place.

Why do so many Christians support the Pastor Paradigm? Why does the majority continue to insist on supporting a failed model? The official model is a counterfeit substitute that falls short on many levels. It is why American Christianity in general continues to deteriorate and lose influence. Look around! America and Americans are suffering! Real Christianity is under attack! It is only the current Great Awakening which largely exists outside official channels that is allowing for a vehicle through which the Lord can work. Sound familiar?

They refuse the Lord’s full authority, refuse His perfect management model, and refuse to allow the infusion of spiritual life that so many are desperately praying for. For them it will always be business as usual.

“But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted. But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites, because you shut off the kingdom of heaven from people; for you do not enter in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in.” [Matthew 23:8-13]   

© 2022 by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.


[1] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[2] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[3] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[4] © 2001 Real Christianity—The Nature of the Church by RJ Dawson. All Rights Reserved.

[5] Unless otherwise noted all Scriptures are taken from the New American Standard Bible, © 1960, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.

Posted on January 6, 2022, in Teaching and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. I’m not exactly sure what your points are in this thesis. I will say that what I see in the Church regarding pastors and leaders is a great falling away into pleasing the culture — so that no one gets offended and stops attending. In the last decade or so I do not hear sermons preached on actual sin, or the dangers of New Age philosophy. I hear sermons about Jesus, but nothing said about actual sin and its consequences. I seldom, if ever, hear a call for people to clean up their lives and get right with God. It seems the Church has nose-dived into the culture in order to gain societal approval. I am shocked at the lack of Holy Spirit presence in the sanctuary, and that is because the Church has lost its fear and reverence of God. I am amazed at the high level of ignorance regarding the principles and precepts of Christ in so many people who claim to be Christians. I see Christians living loose lives in which they abandon their Godly convictions, and run with the world. It’s all fun and games with artificial intelligence running everything. Most people I know can’t live without their cell phone. They love technology and social medias more than the LORD. So it’s not surprising that we see such a lack of reverence and dignity in the Church, along with a gross amount of mismanagement. I wonder if other Christians are seeing this?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Mary. I appreciate your comment and the perspective you bring. It’s somewhat rare in my experience for a Christian to speak with such honest clarity and concern regarding the significant departures from New Testament Christianity. You have revealed much experiential truth in an honest and straightforward manner without even a hint of negativity. A great many well-meaning Christians have had bad church experiences for a number of reasons. Some stay grounded in the Lord. Others become angry and embittered. For the most part there are rarely any apologies or attempts to make things right from the authorities thereof. Much of this is because some Christian leaders exist in a bubble of their own importance and rightness. They also know they must protect the brand, so to speak. Churchgoers are expendable. Many churchgoers, if not most, make no difference whatsoever to the overall product. It’s a sad state of affairs.

      I want you to know that I spent many years as a dutiful church member and participated in just about every church-oriented endeavor possible. I wrote Real Christianity while a member in good standing in a local church. I experienced a great amount of good. I would not be saved without someone inviting me to church. I had many great times in church. But a person cannot give one’s entire heart to the Lord Jesus, go all in, do in-depth studies of the Word of God, etc. and not notice the differences between the Early Church of the first century and what has existed in general in America in our lifetimes. Again, there has been a great amount of good. Some of the bad, however, is really bad.

      It is difficult to understand why we cannot make the necessary corrections when we have the clear written Word of God at the ready. The Lord’s teachings are not mysterious or hard to understand. They can be, however, extremely difficult to apply if a person refuses the application or if the Lord’s teachings conflict with traditional outlooks and understandings. Former sinners who come to real salvation repent properly and sacrifice everything. They don’t hold back. They do whatever the Lord asks. They are so happy to have found grace and the Lord’s love they simply do not care about the cost. This pure attitude, however, can become corrupted if one becomes overly concerned with protecting one’s reputation and livelihood.

      Suffice it to say, since this is a library length subject, that Christians will either obey the Lord or not. Though it will cost us everything and we must carry our cross, living for the Lord remains so easy and fulfilling, especially compared to living without Him in a fallen sinful world. The closer churches and ministers are to the world and sinful human nature the farther they are from God. Christians have been conditioned to always honor their leadership. The vast majority of church members have no say so. Because of this those in charge have a much easier time not honoring the teachings of the Lord and going their own way, taking congregations with them. We can always know a tree by its fruit.

      We must be encouraged, however. None of the great drift of the last few decades has surprised the Lord. He always has a plan in place for those who sincerely and honestly seek Him. They will not be denied. We are at a time now when much spiritual maturity has transpired among those chosen for such a time as this. A great many Christians in America, likely millions, are willing to do anything the Lord asks and are doing it to bring correction, teach New Covenant Truth, and be there for one another. This can all be done, as it was in the first century, without those things traditionally deemed vitally necessary. As long as we put the Lord Jesus FIRST and strive to do His will we can be used for His purposes for the benefit of others.

      Thanks again. The Great Awakening continues. Blessings to you

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Your response is spot-on. Thank you so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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